Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The wise man, the jester and the loud mouth idiot

I have not posted about a controversy on Vraie Fiction in a long while, but here is the time and I could not ignore this. You must have seen or heard about this recent controversy: on the show Real Time with Bill Maher, actor Ben Affleck attacked not only the TV host and stand up comedian, but guest star Sam Harris, because they criticized Islam. You know where I stand: I am an atheist, like Maher and Harris, I am a secular humanist, I am also left leaning, at least on social issues. I think that you cannot be all this and not be very critical of any religion, including Islam. Affleck in a juvenile tantrum, reverted to name calling, ad hominem attacks instead of actually defending his point, or trying to demonstrate he actually had any point. Harris defended his view very well, both on the show and on his blog. Affleck, well, let's just say he is as honest a debater, as educated on these issues as he is a talented actor. And no, I don't consider him much of an actor. I wished Hitchens had been alive and there, so he could have hitchslapped the loud mouth idiot like only he could do. But Harris remained intelligent, pondered and polite. He did not have to remain polite. But hey, some people have class, some other are crass.


Mantan Calaveras said...

I'm an Atheist for Islam.

As a religion Islam is no better or worse than any other, but it is helpful to understand the historical context of the religion.

Christianity employed non-violent resistance against the Roman empire, and the Romans brutally suppressed the Christians and fed them to the lions.

Islam was a way of incorporating warfare into this revolution against the brutal Roman empire using codes of conduct for how and when violence was to be used.

In present times, radical Islam, distinct from just plain everyday Islam, was instigated as a revolution against a modern empire: The United States government.

Sayyid Qtub was one of the creators of radical Islam. He lived in the US, was disgusted by the decadence, violence, and hypocrisy that he saw, and was eventually radicalized when he was tortured by the Egyptian government, who had been trained in the use of torture by the CIA.

As wrongheaded as radical Islam is, their violence and atrocity simply pales in comparison with the US government and her allies. Vietnam alone was an atrocity 100 times more brutal and inhuman than anything that the radical Islamists have done.

That is why it is hypocritical for comfortable westerners to criticize the violence of radical Muslims while benefiting directly on a day to day basis from the brutal subversion that their own governments participate in on a day to day basis. We are here, sharing our thoughts on these computers, only because of the systematic disenfranchisement of poor people across the globe and the exploitation of their resources and labor by our governments.

For my part, I wish that Noam Chomsky was on Maher's show to school all of them in this history. But then, we know that Chomsky isn't allowed on television.

Guillaume said...

Well, this is not a competition between brands of fanaticism, or between brands of imperialism. Because Islamism IS a form of imperialism. Radical Islam is wrong, heck Islam is wrong, regardless of the actions or crimes of the US government. And Western society should not shy away from some values that needs to be defended: equality between men and women, freedom of speech and conscience, accepting homosexuals as equals and not sexual deviants, etc. And oppose an ideology that stands against gender equality, freedom of conscience and so on. Whatever the US government did, or the West for that matter, nothing justifies or even excuses the oppression of women, religious minorities, and homosexuals in Islamist states. Nothing excuses the blind fanaticism of a mob that wants to kill for a few cartoons, or for writing a book, or for changing faith. And criticizing an ideology is not racism, it is fair comment.

But what Affleck did wrong, apart from being dismissive, was name-calling and resorting to ad hominem attacks instead of arguing his point. He behaved like a bully in a high school playground against the smart kid. And that is borderline unforgivable.

Prof Solitaire said...

US foreign policy is shameful. Islam is insane. Two wrongs don't make a right.